By Michael Roop
Lately, I’ve gotten a lot of questions surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement, and specifically where Creekside stands. And because mistrust tends to breed in what’s not said, rather than in what is said, I thought it important to at least begin weighing in on these questions.
I found very helpful some language used by John Piper in one of his “Ask Pastor John” podcast episodes, during which he shares his conclusions after a season of learning and listening. Specifically, he concludes that we need “to make distinctions between, one, a patently true slogan — black lives matter — and, two, ideological roots of a name that may be the real roots, or they may have been co-opted.”
First, the slogan is one we can, we should, unashamedly proclaim: BLACK LIVES MATTER! Often the response is a well-intended but misguided reframe: all lives matter! Again, a patently true slogan; we are all created in the image of God. But looking at the long and varied history of our country, right up until today, all lives have not mattered equally. We have not treated all men (and women) as if they really were created equal and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”
So we proclaim the slogan as both a rebuke and a commitment. A rebuke of a long history during which black lives have not mattered equally to the lives of their white neighbors. A commitment to a future where this grave evil against the image of God is fully undone, all its residue removed.
The Ideology of the Movement
This does not, however, mean we affirm the ideology of the Black Lives Matter movement. To be sure, a cursory read of the BLM statement of belief brings up many statements that directly oppose God’s good design for the world. Among such are, “We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege,” and, “We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure…” These two, among others, are statements of enmity against God’s design for His creation. We denounce them as such.
So while we don’t partner with this movement, nor fully support every part of its ideology, we unashamedly proclaim the slogan: black lives matter!
The Way Through for Creekside
And in so doing, we must boldly, compelled and covered by the grace of God, ask the question, do black lives matter to me? To us? Have we neglected or refused black cultural expressions of worship because we see them as different, exotic, or even wrong? Do I exhibit more fear to a black or brown stranger than a white one? Do I associate minorities with lesser intelligence, a poorer work ethic, less communal potential?
As the Holy Spirit guides us through the tangled webs of our sinful hearts, we can confess our sins with full assurance of forgiveness in Christ, and seek the transformation that is the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:2) through building relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ, and with our neighbors, across racial lines.
Piper, again from the episode referenced above: “The best way to be discerning in regards to the complexities of racial matters is to be in regular, normal — not exceptional — normal conversations across ethnic lines so that we see through other eyes.”